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of pastels, and that's how it started. She was learning portrait so I went too. Then I found I loved painting dogs."

We reach many plateaux in life

This one seemed less cumbrous but

For Fran, school life was interrupted by polio and her sister's death through cerebral palsy, so tertiary education was never an option.

The frigid day had me immobilised

Depressed this was the ledge ever after

Shafts of sunlight filled with dancing insects

Revived spirits as dogs and I explored

The year was 2008, at 65, and ignoring most of the late effects of polio, Fran majored in sculpture and printmaking.

An overgrown rail reserve

Moving from one beam to another

“Having failed almost everything at school, I was delighted to pass with flying colours and seven high distinctions,” said Fran, whose home is laden with her beloved paintings of her dogs, sculptures, shelves of books and sweet smelling flowers from the garden. Her most recent book ‘Life Skills for Polios, a lighthearted handbook’ sits on the coffee table, designed to bring together the most recent information and advice from medical experts and those living with post-polio syndrome.

With spiralling specks

At home, lunching on unsmashed avocado

Unfashionable Uneeda biscuits

(smeared with vegemite)

I made camp on the plateau.

"I always felt somthing was missing; then I found I could do visual arts at Chisolm Frankston."

On the day she turned 75, Fran and Ian were hit hard with the flu. “I felt depressed, then I realised that life is a series of plateaux. I had been excited at first about the 75 but the combination of age and the polio limits the amount of hilarity I can manage. Later, out with the dogs in the sunlight, I realised this was another level to accept and a poem emerged."

“We are like a leaf in a stream,” said Fran. “You can hit some boulders, get caught in the side and then flow back on track. I think that’s why, at 75, and with Ian 82, we have managed all those boulders, and we are so content and happy. I have learnt that it’s not about money. There are seekers of power, seekers of money and seekers of truth. That is why our home is called VIDYA which is Sanskrit for knowledge and truth.”

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